In a rather comedic turn of events, reports state that the “irrefutable proof” provided by Russia’s Ministry of Defense regarding U.S. aid to the Islamic State was nothing but a still from a video game.
The Russian ministry originally claimed that the image was of an IS convoy leaving a Syrian town. The Russian Defense Ministry claimed that the incident had taken place last week.
However, reports now state that the photo actually came from a smartphone game called the AC-130 Gunship Simulator: Special Ops Squadron.
The Conflict Intelligence Team’s fact checking group stated that the additional four photos provided were also erroneous. It admitted that these had been taken from a video showing the Iraqi Air Force’s attack on the IS in Iraq, which took place in 2016.
Sources believe that the video game image was taken from a promotional video featured on the game’s website and YouTube channel. However, the video had been altered to omit the game controls and any on-screen information. Thus, at first look, the image does look suspiciously realistic.
Unfortunately, further analysis shows that the developer’s disclaimer is still located in the top corner of the image. The disclaimer reads “Development footage. This is a work in progress. All content subject to change.”
The Russian Ministry, however, missed the little disclaimer and continued on its anti-U.S. rant. It went ahead and uploaded a few more images, which it stated provided more “irrefutable evidence” that the U.S. was “covering IS combat units to recover their combat capabilities, redeploy and use them to promote the American interests in the Middle East”.
At the time of the accusation, the U.S. rubbished the charges and stated that Russia’s claims were as “accurate” as its air campaign.
In light of the video game discovery, it is safe to state that the U.S. was absolutely right.